News of Immigration Law

Immigrants and Their Advocates File Class Action Lawsuit Against USCIS and DHS for Unlawful Delays in Adjudicating Applications for Employment Authorization

Seattle, WA – Last Friday, three immigrants and two immigration service providers filed a nationwide class action lawsuit here in Seattle against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for unlawfully delaying the adjudication of their applications for employment authorization. Filed by the American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), Gibbs Houston Pauw, Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C., and Van der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP, the complaint alleges that USCIS’s policies and practices of failing to timely adjudicate applications for employment authorization documents (EADs) and failing to issue interim employment authorization, violate the governing regulations and the Administrative Procedure Act.

By regulation, USCIS must either adjudicate EAD applications within a fixed time period or issue interim employment authorization. Yet, USCIS regularly fails to do either, leaving immigrants in a precarious position, unable to work legally and at risk of losing their jobs, related benefits and, in some states, their driver’s licenses. At a recent meeting with AILA members, USCIS representatives indicated that “USCIS no longer produces interim EADs.” Plaintiffs seek the Court’s intervention to compel USCIS to adjudicate EAD applications within the time period mandated by the regulations or, if the regulatory time period has expired, issue interim employment authorization.

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Consular Office Denial of Immigrant Visas: GHP Files Amicus Brief in United States Supreme Court

Gibbs Houston Pauw has filed an amicus brief in Kerry v. Din, a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that courts should be able to review and reverse arbitrary decisions made by consular officers to deny visas.  This case addresses the doctrine of consular nonreviewability, the general rule accepted by some courts that the decisions made by consular officers – even totally arbitrary decisions – cannot be reviewed in any way by the courts.  The amicus brief was filed on behalf of over 70 immigration law professors.

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Robert Gibbs Talks to KIRO7 News about President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration

Robert Gibbs talks to KIRO7 News about President Obama’s Executive Action on immigratoin.

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Seattle Federal Court Finds USCIS and Department of State Manipulated the Record and Abused the Judicial Process in J-1 Waiver Litigation, and Awards Bad Faith Attorney’s Fees

In a recent federal court case in Seattle, District Judge Ricardo Martinez harshly criticized the USCIS and State Department for manipulating the record and consistently making misrepresentations to the court about the evidence that it considered in a J-1 waiver adjudication. The court awarded over $50,000 in attorney’s fees to Linda Guerra and her husband as a result of the bad faith conduct of USCIS and the Department of State in litigation over the adjudication by CIS and State of her application for a waiver of the J-1 foreign residence requirement. Guerra et al v. USA, No. 09-CV-01027 RSM (W.D. Wash., Oct. 21, 2014).

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Seattle Times article by former GHP client: My journey from an undocumented immigrant to Harvard Medical School

By Carlos Estrada Alamo

The Seattle Times:

AFTER years of delay, President Obama has finally acted on immigration reform. This is a watershed moment in my life and the life of my community in Seattle. These days I am studying for a doctor of medicine degree at Harvard Medical School, after graduating from the University of Washington in 2011. But I grew up undocumented in Seattle.

I was 5 years old when my family embarked on a journey from Mexico to the “land of opportunity.” They chose Seattle because we had relatives in the area. We eventually settled in the Delridge neighborhood near White Center.

Despite my parents’ numerous attempts to obtain a green card, they found no viable option. With their choice to remain and endure came a sense of fear and uncertainty as “illegal aliens,” a status that marred our every connection with the world. Despite working six days a week in low-paying jobs offering no benefits, my parents had trouble providing for my family. At school I was perpetually aware of the consequences of having my illegal status revealed. I was plagued by nightmares of being caught and deported. This was my childhood.

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Senator Patty Murray makes the case for immigration reform, highlighting the case of one of GHP’s clients, Benjamin Nunez:

In my home state of Washington, I’ve heard from hundreds of families and businesses who have been directly impacted by our broken system.“Businesses like the West Sound Lumber Company on Orcas Island – a small sawmill owned by the Helsell family for more than four decades. “West Sound Lumber is only able to keep its doors open because of a young man,Benjamin Nunez-Marquez, who goes by Ben.

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The power of one little story among 11.7 million undocumented immigrants

A few weeks ago, the Western Washington Society of Professional Journalists chapter (of which I am a board member) hosted its annual awards gala to honor some of the Northwest’s best journalists.

This year, the board selected Danny Westneat as Journalist of the Year. In his speech that night, Danny questioned his role in the Northwest media ecosystem: He hadn’t, he said, uncovered any major government corruption this year or gone undercover to reveal abuse at any giant, overstepping corporations. Read more

Seattle Times Editorial: Benjamin Nuñez-Marquez’ deportation highlights need for immigration reform

BENJAMIN Nuñez-Marquez’s deportation, scheduled for April 29, underscores the urgent need for Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.

An operator at a sawmill on Orcas Island immigrated to the U.S. illegally, but he has proved himself an irreplaceable worker and trusted neighbor. Hundreds of local residents and at least four Democratic members of Washington’s congressional delegation have organized efforts to help him stay.

As The Seattle Times’ Lornet Turnbull reported last week, Nuñez was driving a sick neighbor to the hospital in 2008 when the U.S. Border Patrol performed a random check and detained him.

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Orcas Island tries to protect skilled immigrant facing deportation

Robert Gibbs was quoted on the following Seattle Times article.

By Lornet Turnbull

Seattle Times

People on Orcas Island are uniting around the sole operator of a small family-run sawmill there, saying his scheduled deportation to Mexico this month could force that business closed and harm the region’s economy.

Owners of West Sound Lumber, where Benjamin Nuñez-Marquez has milled native timber for 15 years, have told immigration authorities that in two years of trying they’ve been unable to find anyone to replace him.

Jack Helsell, 90, who designed and built the operation four decades ago, said those with the knowledge and skill to run the mill’s antique circular saw are well into their 70s now and can’t be expected to work that hard.

And his family, Helsell said, can’t afford to upgrade.

“I didn’t realize how rare he was,” Helsell said of his sawyer. “What we found from all the advertising is that nobody could or wanted to do that job.”

The San Juan Builders Association has written the federal government on Nuñez’s behalf, as has the San Juan County Economic Development Council, which said his deportation, “would adversely affect the economy here as well as the livelihood of many Orcas Island business owners and residents.”

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Federal Court Rules Immigrant Detainees Must Be Given Bond Hearings

March 12, 2014


Matt Adams, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, 206-957-8611,
Inga Sarda-Sorensen, ACLU, 212-549-2666;

SEATTLE – A federal court ruled late yesterday that a class of immigrants detained at the Tacoma-based Northwest Detention Center must be given bond hearings. The court’s decision comes at the same time that hundreds of immigrant detainees are participating in a hunger strike at the facility. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones also denied defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought on behalf of immigrant detainees by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the American Civil Liberties Union, with co-counsel from the Seattle law firm Gibbs Houston Pauw.

Robert Pauw said: “It makes no sense for ICE to lock up – without bond – people who have been living peacefully and productively in our community.  That is just what this administration has been doing.  Hopefully the court’s ruling will put an end to this inhumane practice.”

“The court’s ruling recognizes what is at stake, the anguish and hardship caused by being locked up for months,” said Matt Adams, legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “A bond hearing is not a free ticket out of jail. But at least a person has the right to present their case. That is all they are seeking, a fair shot.”

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